This article is part of our BOO(b) Week Series: in honor of Halloween and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are publishing an article each day about boos, boobs, or both.
Being a huge fan of both Halloween and young adult fiction, I’m always on the hunt for that which intertwines the two. There are so many good, genuinely spooky books out there that are unfortunately overlooked because they’re classified as “young adult.” But whether these titles are outright scary or simply disturbing, if you’re looking for new, creepy titles to put you in the Halloween spirit, look no further.
1. The Merciless by Danielle Vega
One of my favorite young adult horror series of all time, I consider this book what you would get if you mixed Heathers with the occult. Vega doesn’t shy away from challenging her audience with gory descriptions and disturbing themes and has become a distinct voice in the genre. It’s genuinely terrifying but fast-paced and funny. What’s most disturbing, of course, is just how relatable she makes her characters. If you’re looking for a scare, this is the book to pick up.
2. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Kendare Blake emerged as a distinct voice on the young adult horror stage with this release. A spine-chilling novel about a boy who hunts ghosts and the malicious spirit of a murdered girl who shockingly spares his life, Blake’s writing is intense and lean. It’s so much more than your typical horror story, and really challenges the boundaries of the genre. Creepy, funny and complex, it’s a must-read.
3. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
If you’re a fan of the Gothics, this is the perfect book for you. I can never get enough of stories set in the Pacific Northwest, but this one really takes the cake. When a mysterious, alluring boy rents Violet White’s guest house, a disturbing, manipulative game begins. It’s an incredibly atmospheric, unsettling novel that forces you to question what you know at all turns. For how can you fear the Devil when you’re holding his hand?
4. The Diviners by Libba Bray
I’m almost certain that if you took every element I enjoy in books and wrapped it into one novel, this would be the product. 1920s New York City, unrequited love triangles, just a dash of the paranormal, murder, and an omniscient narrator – what more could you want? It’s a compelling and engrossing novel, and once you enter the atmosphere this story creates, you’ll never want to leave. Bray is without a doubt one of the most skilled writers out there, and this is not a title to be missed.
5. The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Yet another Gothic thriller, The Madman’s Daughter, is inspired by H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. When Juliet finds out that her father is living on a remote island and conducting experiments which led to his disgrace, she visits him to find out exactly what he’s doing and discovers her worst nightmares have come true. Science coupled with horror seems like the perfect recipe for a dark, haunting novel. Vivid imagery, constant twists, and turns, and deceptive characters are all precisely executed to create a novel as fascinating and gory as this one.
6. When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter
If you’re looking for strange, you’re looking for this novel. Just recently released, I had the privilege of reading it before its publication and absolutely fell in love with the author’s writing style, challenging themes, and enthralling plot. Possession, the power of family, and a fluid concept of death are all tied together in this one story. The tension in this novel is practically palpable, and such an intense feeling of paranoia is created that this book will haunt you for some time after finishing it. It’s atmospheric and often overwhelming and disturbing, but if nothing else, certainly unique.
7. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
One summer, I became absolutely obsessed with books about ballerinas. When I picked this novel up, it took me by total surprise. Murder and ballet seemed like the perfect pairing, but the clean execution of the writing and manipulation of time and narrative are what make this book so special and elevate it beyond “classic dangerous ballerina tale.” A ghost story at its core, practically any real plot description is a spoiler, so looks like you’ll just have to discover this book’s secrets on your own.
To me, nothing says Halloween quite like a scary book (or movie!) and a good cup of coffee. So, if you’re looking for a sweet treat with a serious kick to it, these novels are the perfect recipe.